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Holly Metzger-Brown, the learn and play director at the York JCC, shares tips on preparing for summer programming this year.

Successful summer programming doesn’t just happen overnight. Instead, it requires proper and detailed preparation. The steps involved in planning a summer program take time, effort and energy if you want the resulting experience to be rewarding. And success comes from offering programs your members and community will attend.

A vital first step involves information gathering and data collection.

Get to know what your community wants and needs this summer and what times and dates best fit their new lifestyles. The best way to get to know what people are interested in and enjoy is to observe their behaviors, listen to what they talk about, and ask them questions.

Your data collection should take a variety of forms, including:

  • A summer program survey.
  • Chatting with class participants.
  • Sending personal emails.
  • Talking with families who enter your facility.

Once you have gathered feedback from members, you can begin to collect data on past program enrollment and program evaluations to gauge which programs were the most popular.

After having collected and organized the information and data and written an assessment of your results, you will be ready for the next step of the process in preparing for summer programming: choosing the programs.

Look for programs that align with members’ values, goals and schedules. Your families might be interested in programming that provides their children with more social experiences, physical activity, lifelong skill building or outdoor play. And parents might be looking for more time to relax while their child is in a program.

Learn More: Creating Camp Schedules – Templates and Tips

As you get your summer planning in motion, be sure to define what “successful” summer programming looks like for your agency and/or department based off your data collection assessment. This success might be defined as increasing enrollment by three percent, adding two off-site summer camps or holding your first annual outdoor member summer picnic event with a minimum of thirty members attending. Whatever successful summer programming looks like to you, a clear definition will assist with your decision-making process during the stages of program development and marketing.

Use your assessment tool as the foundation to create a pathway to guide you during every step of your planning process. If success for your agency/department is to increase enrollment by three percent and your assessment notes that members would enjoy more social programs for their children, you have the information you need to develop a program that has a higher chance of being effective

When you take time to prepare and collect data, complete a program assessment and define successful summer programming, you can create your summer programming and move into your marketing plan. Having created programs that align with your members’ values and goals, you will now have the opportunity to produce marketing materials that visually showcase those programs for the members who are interested in them.

Holly Metzger-Brown

Holly Metzger-Brown, M.Ed., CSA, GC-ABA, BCBA, LBS is the Learn & Play Director at the York Jewish Community Center. She graduated from Lycoming College, where she played varsity tennis and basketball. She has a master’s degree in teacher leadership and education. Holly is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, certified POINTE PROGRAM consultant, and certified tennis instructor. She has been published in several books, journals and magazines, including Onsite Fitness, Netplay, Wacky Ways to Succeed with ADHD, Strategies, TennisPro, Yorkids and Community Rec. She has been locally and nationally recognized for her youth fitness and sports programs.

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